Saturday, 16 May 2015

Live and Learn

The Secret Life of Cassandra the Crow: Cassandra in her boudoir

Oh, no! Cassandra has flown the coop! While I wasn’t looking, she took off with a perfect stranger. Vain bird that she was, she succumbed to flattery, and went along with the first person who said nice things about her. And I didn’t get to say good bye!

Parting is such sweet sorrow ... but the $$$ in my wallet make up for it.

So now there’s a space on the wall at Sweet Surprise, the bakery-cafe where she was hanging out. Having had a taste of the rewards of creativity, I decide to place another crow in the empty space which Cassandra vacated so suddenly.

Actually, I have another crow waiting in the wings to make an appearance. She didn’t make the cut at Sweet Surprise when the proprietor looked at all my available pieces, however, and I’ve learned something from your feedback last week. You like art that brings a smile to your face. And definitely, this bird is no barrel of laughs.

It’s a piece I made more than a year ago. I remember what prompted me to make the beaky creation which appears to be yelling a lot of harsh words. I’d been at an event where people started talking, and the talk made me very uncomfortable. Perhaps you’ve been there, too: perhaps you’re politically conservative, but everyone at the party is slagging the Prime Minister (or vice versa for my American friends); or you’re a vegetarian, and folks are poking fun at those bleeding heart animal lovers, all the while stuffing their faces with sausage bites. Or you overhear someone making a derogatory racist comment. What do you do?

I kept my mouth shut, while seething inside. But when I got home, I did a bunch of soul-searching. What a wuss I was! I didn’t want to make waves, didn’t want to lose friends, didn’t want to be a party-pooper, so I said nothing. But what about my integrity?  I considered my options: I could decide not to associate with these people anymore; I could keep quiet and pretend all was well; I could bring up the issue the next time I was with my friends and voice my opinion; I could phone each of them and discuss it. Or I could write them an e-mail or letter expressing my discomfort. (This last option is definitely NOT the way to go, I discovered – it’s the coward’s way out, and opens the door to yet more misunderstandings. Oh, well, live and learn.)

While sorting this all out, I turned to my trusty friend, Art – Art Therapy, that is.  I decided that I would be quiet no more. I would take my cue from the crows, who do not hesitate to speak out on issues. They tell other crows to get out of their space; they holler loudly when they spot danger, they call for help if they need it, and they’re no slouches in the sweet-talk department, either. (Read more about crow communication and the genesis of this piece in the blog posted January 14, 2014). My art piece featured an enormous beak with a subliminal message:  “Don’t mess with me; I’m mad as heck and I’m not taking it anymore.” Creating this piece of art was therapeutic, but not all that popular. It's the least favourite piece of the resident sweetie, who is generally pretty supportive. My friends have little to say when they see it. And after all, who wants to be face to face with angry crow? Hmmm ... live and learn. If at first you don't succeed ...

So I took a second look at it. Whoa! Look at all those negative messages. Whatever happened to “a soft answer turns away wrath?” And this bird is all mouth, no heart. She is not embodying any of her messages; she’s just yelling at the world. If I want to win friends and influence people, I need to find a more acceptable way of communicating.

I took the piece off its frame and ‘unsewed’ the big beak. It had to go. Then I created a whole crow, one standing out on a branch with her beak open, but not aggessively so. And I added new messages: “stick together, girls”; “nice job”; “wanna dance?” and “LAUGH”. Yes, it is important to say Stop and NO when needed; it’s important to speak out and warn of danger, or invite others to listen to your opinions.  But it’s also important to speak so others want to listen; it’s important to encourage, to build community, to find common ground which includes joy and play, love and laughter, and so much more. I call the piece SQUAWK ON.

I hung the revised piece on the wall at Sweet Surprise and we’ll see what kind of feedback I get. In the meantime, I’m realizing there’s more I could have done to revise it. Crows are seldom solitary creatures; they are part of a large extended family and often travel in groups. They know all about the meaning of “Stick together, girls!”

A large group of crows is known as a "murder of crows".
 This one little crow is trying to change the world all by herself.  Doesn’t she know there’s strength in numbers?

I think I’ll have to try again, and this time I will feature a murder of squawking crows, or at least an attempted murder.

 Yup -- live and learn!

No comments:

Post a Comment